Abstract Listing by Session

SY12 All By Myself? Increasing the Involvement of Conservation Scientists in Effective Grassroots Conservation Action Worldwide

New Zealand Room 4      Wednesday, December 7th 2011

Organizer(s): Anderson, S.S., California State University Channel Islands; Sekercioglu, C., University of Utah


University-based conservation scientists are not as involved in grassroots conservation as they should be. This is particularly important for convincing decision-makers to take the necessary conservation action. Our experience has shown that decision-makers, especially in the developing world, are more likely to follow the recommendations of university-based scientists, whose academic credentials they trust, than those of independent NGOs, who they often suspect of having political agendas. Therefore, increased collaboration between grassroots conservation NGOs and research-focused conservation scientists is key to the success of effective, evidence-based conservation efforts. We will showcase a range of grassroots conservation case studies, all of which have fostered science-based, tangible conservation progress over many years while simultaneously educating and improving the quality of life for the general public and building true community-based support. We will highlight consistent themes from these case studies that span the globe and that have allowed them to persist and grow. We will make the case for why university-based conservation scientists should be more involved in grassroots conservation and outline effective ways of doing so, including undertaking evidence-based conservation science, communicating the results successfully to the decision-makers, and conducting public outreach and media engagement.


SY12.1   10:30  Turkey’s globally important biodiversity in crisis Çağan H. Şekercioğlu*, Department of Biology, University of Utah, 257 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0840, USA ; Sean Anderson, Environmental Science and Resource Management Program, 1 University Drive, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA 93012, USA; Erol Akçay, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), University of Tennessee, 1534 White Ave Suite 400 Knoxville, TN 37996, USA ; Raşit Bilgin, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Boğaziçi University, Bebek, Istanbul, 34342, TURKEY
Turkey (Türkiye in Turkish) is the only country in the world mostly covered by three biodiversity hotspots (Caucasus, Irano-Anatolian, Mediterranean). Turkey’s position at the nexus of Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, its mountains and its encirclement by three seas have resulted in high terrestrial, fresh water, and marine biodiversity. However, our scientific knowledge of Turkey’s biodiversity and associated conservation challenges is insufficient, mainly due to limited research and language barriers. Addressing this gap is especially relevant today because the important biodiversity of Turkey is facing severe and growing threats, especially from business interests and the government. Turkey ranks 140th out of 163 countries in biodiversity and habitat conservation. As one of the earliest loci of human civilization, Turkey has experienced millennia of human activities that have degraded the original ecosystems on land and sea. Although Turkey’s total forest area increased by 5.9% since 1973, other important habitats such as endemic-rich Mediterranean chapparal, grasslands, coastal areas, wetlands, and rivers are disappearing, and rampant erosion is degrading steppes and rangelands. Current development-focused policies, particularly regarding water use, threaten to eliminate much of what remains. Development, dam construction, draining wetlands, and irrigation are the most widespread threats. The first goal of this paper is to broadly survey what is known about Turkey’s biodiversity, and identify the areas where more research is needed. Our second goal is to identify the conservation challenges that Turkey is facing today and highlight the potential to preserve Turkey’s remaining biodiversity. Achieving this potential requires immediate action, international attention, and greater support for Turkey’s developing conservation capacity, and the expansion of a nascent Turkish conservation ethic.
SY12.2   11:00  Restoring Los Angeles's Last Coastal Wetland: Ballona Wetlands Restoration Planning Bergquist, Sean*, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission
In 2004, the State of California took title to 600-acres of the former Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles, and began the complicated process of restoration the last remaining coastal wetland in one the largest cities in America. The complex process, involving multiple owners, funders, regulatory and resource agencies, as well as infrastructure and the large group of public stakeholders, is based on a scientific understanding of wetland processes and restoration needs. Restoration planning has involved extensive public meetings and design charretes, research and feasibility studies with review and recommendations from a Science Advisory Committee. The agencies and stakeholders have established restoration goals, which include: 1) Restore and enhance salt-water influenced wetland habitats to benefit Endangered and Threatened species, migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, seabirds, and coastal fish and aquatic species. Restoration of seasonal ponds, riparian and freshwater wetlands, and upland habitats will be considered where beneficial to other project goals or biological and habitat diversity; 2) Provide for wildlife-dependent public access and recreation opportunities compatible with the habitats, fish and wildlife conservation; 3) Identify and implement a cost-effective, ecologically beneficial, and sustainable (low maintenance) habitat restoration alternative. In addition to restoration goals, guiding principles for the restoration planning process have been established, and include: The planning process will, 1) Be based on the best available science, developed with technical and scientific expertise; 2) Be transparent and will allow all stakeholders input; 3) Respect the decision-making bodies of each of the State Agencies.
SY12.3   11:15  Conservation of the prairie dog ecosystem in Mexico Ceballos, G.*, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico ; Pacheco, J., Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; List, R., Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Grassland ecosystems worldwide are critically imperiled due to land conversion, desertification, and the loss of native populations and species. The Janos region of northwestern Mexico maintains one of the largest remaining black-tailed prairie dog colony complexes in North America, supports a high diversity of threatened and endangered species, and provides environmental services. The rapid deterioration of the Janos grassland ecosystem has led us to propose a half million hectare biosphere reserve as the basis to protect the prairie dog grassland ecosystem and the regional biodiversity, making compatible human economic activities, especially grazing and agriculture, with conservation. We succeeded in establishing the Janos Biosphere Reserve by a presidential decree on in 2009. The decree was the culmination of more than two decades of grassroots scientific research and conservation work in the. We are now working on a new paradigm for the Janos region that couples the human dimension and ecological system. As conservation scientists, this is one of the most critical challenges of our time.
SY12.4   11:30  Integrating wildllife and community health to promote conservation and sustainable livelihoods Kalema-Zikusoka, Gladys*, Conservation Through Public Health ; Rubanga, Steven, Conservation Through Public Health; Byonanebye, Joseph, Conservation Through Public Health; Gaffikin, Lynne, Evaluation and Research Technologies for Health
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to approximately half of the world’s estimated population of 780 critically endangered mountain gorillas, and is also surrounded by very high population densities of 300 people per square kilometer amongst the poorest in Africa, who are stakeholders in gorilla ecotourism and yet have limited access to modern health services. Two scabies skin disease outbreaks in two Bwindi mountain gorilla groups in 1996 and 2000/1, resulting in the death of an infant and sickness in the rest of the group, were eventually traced to surrounding communities, possibly through contact with scabies mite infested clothing when gorillas left the park to forage on community land. Subsequent community health education workshops and research on the risks of TB disease transmission at the human/wildlife/livestock interface further emphasized the linkages. These findings resulted in the formation of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) in 2003, a registered Ugandan NGO and US non-profit, whose focus is the interdependence of wildlife health and human health in and around Africa’s protected areas. CTPH implements three integrated Population, Health and Environment (PHE) programs to address these issues: wildlife health monitoring, community public health and information, communication and technology, through partnerships with governments and local communities.
SY12.5   11:45  Conservation, sustainable use, and economic development: land owners, academia, and government working together in Mexico Medellin, RA*, Institute of Ecology, UNAM/Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
It is now more than clear that conservation can only be achieved with the resolute support of the land owners and other stake holders. It is our duty as conservation professionals to make this a reality. Over the past 15 years, Mexico has expanded collaborative programs with land owners to engage them in biodiversity management and conservation. A program created in the Federal Government in 1995, now contains well over 15% of the Mexican territory. The UMA program (Units of Management for Wildlife Conservation for its Spanish acronym) promotes sustainable uses of wildlife (plants and animals) in areas actively protected by the land owners. This relatively new program can only make progress with the active, decisive participation of University-based biologists who provide management plans, expertise, and orientation to improve conservation. A tripod approach (government, land owners, academia) is having a significant impact in biodiversity conservation, sustainable use, and economic development. Some examples illustrate the great potential and significant impact that programs like this one can have.
SY12.6   12:00  Conservation is where the heart is Possingham, H.P.*, The University of Queensland
Conservation lobbying and campaigns occur at all spatial and temporal scales. Each of us has the most ability to act and achieve conservation outcomes close to home, although the gains are generally small. Global conservation outcomes require many people and are highly uncertain. I will describe my involvement in achieving conservation outcomes on the ground from the local scale, a neighbourhood park, through to issues of continental and global significance. Some common features of success are: timing, persistence and partnerships.
DISCUSSION - Discussion period commences after all presentations have finished